Mistakes are easy to make, people will live their lives making many, which is why forgiveness is so important. Sadly, forgiveness isn’t easy, at times it’s impossible, and last night I witnessed something that has offended many and likely won’t be forgiven anytime soon.
When Rich Homie Quan walked out on that Hip-Hop Honors stage wearing Biggie’s signature Coogi sweater I was hopeful that the Atlanta native was about to do the city proud by reciting the verse to “Get Money” with a mix of New York swagger and southern charm. What the world witnessed on that stage has completely taken over social media, not a trending topic because it was an outstanding tribute, but because RHQ forgot the lyrics - an immediate stumble that was like watching a prized race horse tumble and fall breaking its neck moments after the starting pistol is shot in the sky.
Hip-Hop’s love for Biggie is no different than a parent's love for a brilliant child that was sadly taken from this world too soon. That’s an undying affection, a deeply-rooted emotional connection that must be handled with care. If you are in the position to honor him, pay any form of homage, it must be done with the near-perfection of a Mozart symphony. Rich Homie was far from perfect, people have every right to be furious, not because he should know the verse verbatim, but because he should’ve been prepared knowing what he represented when gracing that stage, when he pulled on that sweater and when he agreed to temporarily carry Biggie’s legacy. There’s no excuse why he wasn’t prepared. It was the final blunder in a long line of blunders that has left me feeling that the once, promising, Rich Homie Quan is just a shell of the potential artist that arrived in 2013.
Before Desiigner, it was Rich Homie Quan that was criticized for sounding like Future on his breakout hit, “Type Of Way.” Future was already a glowing star, Rich Homie was just a rising act, and even if the two had vocal similarities, there was no denying that Quan had a hit. The song was everywhere - a catchy, melodic, southern rap tune with an energetic bounce that leaps into your pores. There was nowhere in the city of Atlanta that you could go and not hear the record, it was a complete takeover. It wasn’t just a local hit, the record went worldwide, especially once Drake acclaimed “Type Of Way” the song of the summer. Drake even considered remixing the record around the time he did “Versace,” a decision that could have potentially sent the song into another stratosphere. Quan didn’t need Drake, records like “Pass Around” and “Differences” were also burning up the summer streets, there was no questioning who had next.
“Type Of Way” was featured on Still Goin In (Reloaded) but it was the mixtape that followed, I Promise I Will Never Stop GoingIn that proved he wasn’t a one-hit-wonder, he had much more, the questions that Atlanta natives wondered was what his next hit would be. There wasn’t a car, club, or house party that I stepped foot in and didn’t hear Rich Homie Quan in 2013. It was never the same song - “They Don’t Know,” “Cash Money,” “WWYD,” “Get TF Out My Face,” “Man Of The Year,” “Walk Thru,” “Blah Blah Blah,” all records that were being heard everywhere. Rich was blowing up bigger with each release. His voice was the reason why he was beefing with Future but his voice is what people couldn’t get enough of - the combination of passion and pain gave off this raw yet alluring tone that made his catchy melodies stick with you. Not the best rapper, not the best singer, but what he lacked in prowess was made up by a very natural charisma. The success of I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In occured around the time Quan started to lend voice to others - YG for “My Nigga” and to Yo Gotti’s “I Know.” The way his voice elevated both records to being big club singles made it very clear he could be rap’s next hook guy if he continued turning songs into gold.
2014 was the year of Rich Gang - Quan, Young Thug, and Birdman was the trifecta that appeared with the incomprehensible but still somehow undeniably catchy “Lifestyle.” You haven’t lived until you stood in a room with intoxicated adults making awkward grunts and mumbles just to triumphantly yell, “LIFESTYLE!” Charting No. 16 on Billboard’s Hot 100 was impressive for two newcomers who as solo artists barely scratched the top 50. As Thug murmured, it appeared to only be the beginning for the two. Praise followed the Rich Gang: The Tour Pt 1 mixtape, Complex called it one of the best debut mixtapes ever. Birdman was distancing himself from Wayne and discovered two of the latest Atlanta stars heating up. Thug and Quan, the duo that would carry Birdman and Cash Money into the future. There’s always a point in an artist's career where everything is going well, near perfect, where you only see brighter tomorrows. Quan was there, on the cusp of breaking all the way though, and then slowly but surely a moon descended and blocked out his sun.
After the success of Rich Gang it seemed as if things started to slowly fall apart for Quan. Something internally had caused the three to separate, and even though both Quan and Thug seemed to still be close with Birdman, their friendship went from being brothers to subtweets and petty disses. Following the Rich Gang breakup was the massive leak of records - over 100 unfinished songs that Quan and Thug recorded hit the internet. On not just one but two of the songs that were released without his permission or supervision Quan rapped lyrics that alluded to rape. His apologies didn’t add any kind of comfort, it was a hard pill to swallow for some fans. It was a big deal for a moment, one that didn’t last long enough to be a dagger in his career, but eyebrows were raised on the kind of artist he was becoming.
Rich Homie Quan dropped three mixtapes in 2015 - If You Ever Think I Will Stop Goin' in Ask RR (Royal Rich), DTSpacely Made This, and ABTA: Still Going In. Out of the three mixtapes, only one produced a hit record - “Flex.” The single went on to be his most successful solo commercial release charting in the top 20 and motivating bodies to gyrate across dance floors all summer long. It was a huge moment for Quan, but it showed that if he could only deliver one hit after releasing three mixtapes worth of music his quantity wasn’t matching his previous quality. So much music was given away and forgotten just as quickly and in a cruel twist of fate, the song that had the nation proclaiming his name had nothing to do with him. The music industry is far from fair. One day we will look back and realize how insane it is that Quan had nothing to do with "Hit The Quan." While the world was hitting the dance, Rich Homie had quietly broke his promise, he had stopped going in, and the proof was in how the music wasn’t being received how it once was.
Is that saying it’s over for Rich Homie Quan? No, not at all. I believe he still has a very solid base of fans and enough records to keep him performing in the states and overseas for a several more years. Or at least this is what I thought prior to the Biggie fiasco. Last night was the perfect opportunity for Rich Homie Quan to remind people of his presence, that he was still here, still going in, and the start to a period of redemption that would lead up to his long-awaited, possibly forgotten debut album. (I’m pretty sure most of us consider I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In the debut album, but I digress.) Only time will tell if Quan can recover from this tragic moment. He’ll need incredible PR and even better music to do damage control. If not, then Rich Homie Quan might not be rich for long.
Hopefully he returns to form but we’ve seen it before, they hit, then they miss, and we never hear from them again. Hi Chingy.
By Yoh, aka Broke Homie Yoh, aka @Yoh31
Photo Credit: Instagram